Berman & Asbel, LLP

How Do We Handle our Personal Property in a Divorce?

When people think about the property they have to divide in their divorce, they often think of the very valuable or large items, like cars, homes and jewelry. However, you must also divide personal property and household items that are marital property and this can be confusing, frustrating and tedious.

As you approach this step of the property division process in your own divorce, understand that there are few things you can do to make it easier on yourselves.

  1. Make lists. Putting together lists can help you keep track of all the property, how much every item is worth and whether you plan to sell it or keep it. A list will also keep track of who is keeping which items.
  2. Take pictures. Taking pictures accomplishes a few things. First, it documents the existence and condition of the item. Second, it can make it easier to post the item for sale on sites like Craigslist. Third, it can help you stay organized and visualize who gets what.
  3. Figure out values. This can be a difficult step, as household items and personal property can be worth much less than the amount you paid. To estimate the value of things like furniture, dishware and d├ęcor items, you should look at sites like Craigslist to see comparable items and how they are priced. If an item is very unusual or potentially valuable, then you can consult a financial professional to appraise it.
  4. Expect to resolve disputes yourselves. As this article notes, the courts are likely not going to weigh on who will get your wedding china or your lawnmower. Figure out a resolution method early on, and let that guide you. You might flip a coin or decide based on who gave you the item or who picked it out.

If you get stuck and cannot make decisions, or if you feel like the valuation or separation of items is unreasonable, then it is wise to talk to an attorney. Your attorney can provide critical guidance to keep things moving and negotiate on your behalf to ensure this and every step of the property division process is fair.

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